Santa Cruz’s H&H Fresh Fish offers sustainable seafood subscriptions

Halibut with Mango, Jalapeno, Avocado Salsa - cooked by Allison Garcia using seafood from H&H's CSS

Santa Cruz’s H&H Fresh Fish offers subscriptions to its sustainable seafood “CSS” (Community Supported Seafood). This program is similar to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture),  a subscription that many local farms offer to customers where folks receive a box of produce weekly. Subscribers to H&H’s CSS choose from several pick-up sites in Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley, including a few farmers markets, and receive extremely fresh fish plus recipe sheets. Home delivery is available for an extra fee.

H&H launched the CSS in June; its first season lasted 14 weeks and the second season started September 20. But you can still sign up and pay a pro-rated price if you’re interested in joining for rest of the season, which lasts until December.

Founders and co-owners Hans Haveman and Heidi Rhodes, partners in life as well as business, started H&H in Santa Cruz in 2003. As their business grew, they began selling to more and more farmers markets and now sell at 15 markets across the Bay Area.

Rhodes says the seed for the CSS was originally planted by some of her farmers market customers. “My inspiration for starting this program was honestly the many inquiries we were getting from family and friends wanting our seafood.  So many people are learning the importance of choosing sustainable and know that because of the nature of our business we really offer the freshest fish around. However, not everyone is in the habit of shopping at farmers markets, and we understand that if it’s not part of your routine it’s not necessarily easy to change. More and more people are turning to CSAs for their weekly organically farmed produce, so we thought, CSA? Why not SeaSA?”

Rhodes enjoys creating the sheets that accompany each week’s fish. She offers cooking techniques plus basic tips and recipes. Some of the recipes are her own; others are ones she finds online through a variety of reputable sources.  “My favorite part of this program is getting back to the personal connection with our customers and doing my part to encourage and enable a healthy lifestyle,” Rhodes shares. “Getting to supply community members with fresh seafood makes me feel a little bit like I’m doing my part to encourage and support health.”

CSS member Allison Garcia joined in June and happily renewed her membership for the second season. “I get just the right amount of high quality fish such as salmon and halibut, along with recipes. What I’ve really appreciated is the weekly information sheet that provides information about how that particular fish is fished sustainably, the characteristics of that particular fish for food preparation, and recommended methods for cooking.”

I recently joined the CSS and am loving it so far! The first week, I received an absolutely fresh filet of black cod (it was fished in Monterey Bay the DAY BEFORE). I utilized one of the included recipes to make a savory Panko-encrusted broiled fish that my husband I both greatly enjoyed. And the recipe was easy!

With Hans being a fisherman for over 30 years, Rhodes emphasizes that one focus of H&H’s CSS is on supporting the local fishing economy.  “Our fishermen fish daily and we immediately process and sell their catch the very next day at our markets (operating 14 markets per week makes for super fast turnover — something that is unique in the seafood business.)  This keeps them fishing, pays them top dollar, and we get to offer our customers the finest hand-selected and processed, hook and line caught, sustainable seafood which protects our beloved bay.  The beauty of the CSS is that it is a win-win for all parties involved.  Because of our members’ support, we are able to offer local fishermen fairest prices for their catch.” H&H CSS members can expect to receive local species such as Salmon, Black Cod, Snapper, Sole, Halibut, and White Seabass.

Cost/Details

The basic share for one meal per week is $210 for a season. This consists of 1 pound per week, with the idea of serving two people at a half-pound portion each. One meal per week (two portions) is $15; two meals per week cost $30. Members choosing 2 meals per week will receive two different types of fish. There is also a four-portion option: one meal per week for $30, two meals per week for $55.

When people first join, they pay a $10 set-up fee that includes the use of two cooler bags. When they pick up their fish each week, they bring back their empty cooler from the week before, so it’s an easy and efficient rotation.

H&H determines prices by taking the average of their five main species’ costs, ranging from the lowest (rockfish, $10/lb.) to the most premium (salmon, $22/lb. this season). A $20 “premium only” share is also available (species such as salmon, halibut, and white seabass). If the one or two pound measurements don’t work for you, H&H will customize the pricing for 1.5 pounds, 3 pounds, etc. Members are welcome to join at any time, by calling (831) 461-1576, emailing info@hhfreshfish.com, or using this online form.

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